Voluntary Disclosure Program Screening

I received an interesting call late Friday afternoon from a Canadian taxpayer who wanted to know more about the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosure Program.

She said that she thought she was being “swindled”.

She called a “tax solution” type business and they said that for $3,000.00, they would “investigate” as to whether or not she qualified for the program.

To which I asked her this question;

“Has the CRA tried to get you to file outstanding returns, either by phone or by sending letters to you?”

“Yes”, she replied.

“Then you do NOT qualify for the program” was my response.

And I saved her $3000.00.

If the CRA has already reach out to you – or attempted to reach out to you – regarding unfiled returns or unreported income, then your disclosure is no longer voluntary.

For more information, read up on the CRA’s Voluntary Disclosure Program, through the CRA’s website, here.    Or Google “CRA VDP” and refer to the websites beginning with http://www.cra.gc.ca, or http://www.CRA-arc.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures

 

Tips To Keep the CRA Collections Group Happy!

The following are tips to keep the CRA’s collections department happy.

This list in not fully inclusive of everything that you can do because you cannot send them gifts, they have to reject or toss them, and if you do their work for them – they might like that for a bit – until there are no more accounts, and then they will have no more work to do, and then no job.

 

So here are a few tips to keep CRA happy…

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  If they have to contact you, they’re already angry.
  2. Don’t be a jerk on the phone to them.  Everything you say goes into a permanent diary and that diary is summarized semi-annually.  You don’t want anyone who accesses your account to think you’re a jerk
  3. Don’t accuse them of being out to get you…  They likely have 400-500 accounts and their goal is to collect some, write some off and let the others pay or go bankrupt.  Just show them some progress on any of those fronts and you’ll be in much better standing.
  4. Ask for the best and lowest settlement offer.  The CRA does NOT do that unless it is through insolvency or a formal proposal in bankruptcy.  The IRS settles debts, but this is not the IRS… The CRA is WAY better!
  5. If you enter into a payment arrangement, ensure there are sufficient funds in the account to pay the cheques. If a cheque is returned NSF (not sufficient funds), then the CRA collections officer will take immediate collection actions and getting those Requirements to Pay removed can be next to impossible.
  6. Keep current!!!  Whether during the period of a payment arrangement, or just through discussions with the CRA make sure you are up-to-date on all filings and payments (including GST/HST, income tax, payroll taxes, etc).   If you fail to remain current, the CRA can – and likely will – end the payment arrangement and pressure you for more.
  7. Understand that the CRA is not your bank, and treat them that way.  At a bank, you are earning credit, but at the CRA, in collections, you are paying 10% interest compounding daily… It’s not in your best interest to take your time re-paying them.
  8. If you have nothing to hide (and even if you do have something to hide), be honest with the CRA collections officer. Things you say may cause the CRA collections officer to become concerned.
  9. Provide the information that is requested by the CRA collections officer. If the CRA collections officer trusts you, he/she will be more likely to exercise discretion before pressing confirm on that Requirement To Pay.

Changes to the CRA’s RC59 Business Consent Form (For Online Access) Coming in May 2017

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced on their website that there are changes coming to the RC59 Business Consent form.  This form is completed by a taxpayer who has business accounts or by businesses who wish to have a representative contact the CRA on their behalf.

Without having this form signed and dated, the CRA will not speak to the representative.

These changes are expected to be law in May of 2017.

These laws apply to representatives who use the RC59, Business Consent, to get online access to their business clients’ information in Represent a Client.

  1. After May 15, to request online access to tax information for a business, you will need to complete the authorization request in Represent a Client. Form RC59 will no longer be used to authorize online access.

    To complete an authorization request:

    1. Log into Represent a Client.
    2. From the Welcome page, select “Review and update.”
    3. Select “Authorization request” at the bottom of the “Manage clients” tab and follow the instructions.
    4. Print the signature page for your client to sign.

    Scan and send the signed copy of the signature page to the CRA using Submit documents.

  2. When you use Represent a Client, you’ll have access to your business clients’ information in five days or less instead of the 15 days it takes today with form RC59.
    You can also see which business clients have authorized you and if the authorizations expire by selecting “Businesses that have authorized this business (or RepID)” under the “Manage clients” tab.
  3. What if I don’t use Represent a Client?
    If you still prefer your current process, you can still use form RC59 to request access to your business clients’ information by telephone or mail.

 

The CRA Wants You To Make Your Installments! You Do Too!!

Did you know?

You can see your installment amount in the CRA’s My Account and make your installment payments online.

Even better, you can see your installment amount online!

To see your installment amount online, you need to login to My Account, select “View mail,” and click “Instalment.” If you don’t have My Account, you can register now, I’ve hyperlinked it for you, but understand that the registration process can take weeks.

Also, I do not recommend providing the CRA with Direct Deposit information if you have a tax liability or intend on having one any time soon as they will use that bank source to clean out your bank account… I’m just saying…  If I still worked there, I would too.

Back to installments…

Don’t forget: If you signed up for online mail, you may receive an email notification for your instalment reminder from the CRA!

If you fail to make your installment payments you will be penalized by the CRA, as laid out here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/pymnts/nstlmnts/ntrst-eng.html.

Instalment interest

You will be charged interest if all of the following conditions apply:

  • The CRA sends you an instalment reminder in 2016 that shows an amount to pay
  • you must pay by instalment in 2016
  • you did not make instalment payments, or you made payments that were late or you paid less than what you had to pay

The CRA charges instalment interest on all late or insufficient instalment payments.

Instalment interest is compounded daily at the prescribed interest rate.

How the CRA determines the interest?

  1. The CRA calculates interest on each instalment payment that you should have paid from the day it was due to your balance due date based on the payment option that results in the least amount of interest.
  2. The CRA calculates the interest on each instalment you paid for the year starting from the later of the date the payment was made or January 1 up to the balance due date.

Then, they determine the interest you owe by charging the difference between a. and b., if the difference is more than $25.

Instalment penalty

You may have to pay a penalty if your instalment payments are late or less than the required amount.

The CRA apply this penalty only if your instalment interest charges for 2016 are more than $1,000.

To calculate the penalty, the CRA will determine which of the following amounts is higher:

  • $1,000, or
  • 25% of the instalment interest that you would have had to pay if you had not made instalment payments for 2016

Then, they subtract the higher amount from your actual instalment interest charges for 2016.  Finally, they divide the difference by two and the result is your penalty.  Clear as mud, eh?

Example

For 2016, John made instalment payments that were less than he should have paid. As a result, he has $2,500 of actual instalment interest charges for 2016. If John had not made any instalment payments in 2016, his instalment interest charges would have been $3,200. Since 25% of $3,200 is $800, we subtract $1,000 (the higher amount) from $2,500. The difference is $1,500. Then, we divide $1,500 by two. John’s penalty is $750.

Now the good part!

How can you reduce your instalment interest and penalties?

You can reduce or eliminate the interest charges and penalties by overpaying your next instalment payment or by paying it early. By paying early or overpaying, you will earn instalment credit interest. This credit interest is not refundable and can only be used against any interest charges on late payments for the same tax year.

 

How to Pay:

Choose the electronic payment method that’s right for you:

Online banking – Through your financial institution’s online banking, add the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a payee and look for the “tax instalments” payment option.

Debit card – The CRA’s My Payment service lets you pay with your Visa® Debit or Interac® online debit card through participating financial institutions.

Pre-authorized debit – You can set up a tax payment in advance. You choose the bank account, the amount, and the date or dates of the transaction.

Credit card – You can use a third-party service provider that offers additional payment methods, including credit cards.

Carefully enter your social insurance number as your account number so the CRA can apply your payment to the intended account.

For more information, watch our video Change it up: Pay your taxes online and, go to make a payment to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Stay connected with the CRA:

On Twitter – @CanRevAgency.

Subscribe to a CRA electronic mailing list.

Add their RSS feeds to your feed reader.

You can also watch their tax-related videos on YouTube.

 

July 9, 2016: The Canada Revenue Agency Revokes the Registration of the ACTLAP Children’s Foundation (A.C.F.)

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has posted on their website that they will revoke the registration of ACTLAP Children’s Foundation (A.C.F.), a charity based in North York, Ontario, effective July 9, 2016. The notice of revocation has been published in the Canada Gazette.

On May 3, 2016 the CRA issued a notice of intention to revoke the registration of the ACTLAP Children’s Foundation (A.C.F.) as a charity, in accordance with subsection 168(1) of the Income Tax Act (The Act). The letter stated, in part, that:
“The audit by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has revealed that the Organization operated primarily for the non-charitable purpose of furthering a tax shelter donation arrangement, the Pharma Gifts International Inc. program. The Organization agreed to accept alleged gifts of property from participants and to act as a receipting agent for this donation arrangement. For the period of June 16, 2012 to June 15, 2014, the Organization improperly issued receipts totalling over $64 million for purported donations of cash and pharmaceuticals, which were not legitimate gifts. Of the $1,724,814 in cash contributions it received, the Organization paid $1,289,385 to the promoters of the tax shelter. Of the $62,315,818 million [sic] worth of tax receipts issued for the gifts of pharmaceuticals, the CRA determined that the Organization significantly over-reported the value of the alleged property, resulting in grossly inflated tax receipts to participants.

The audit has shown that the Organization has failed to comply with several requirements set out in the Act. In particular, the Organization issued donation receipts for transactions that did not qualify as gifts, issued receipts otherwise than in accordance with the Act and its Regulations, did not devote all its resources to charitable activities and failed to maintain proper books and records. For all of these reasons, and for each reason alone, it is the position of the CRA that the Organization no longer meets the requirements necessary for charitable registration and should be revoked in the manner described in subsection 168(1) of the Act.”

Registered charities perform valuable work in our communities, and Canadians support this work in many ways. The CRA regulates these organizations through the Act and is committed to ensuring that they operate in compliance with the law. When a registered charity is found not to comply with its legal obligations, the CRA may revoke its registration under the Act.

Registered charities receive generous tax incentives under the Act including the ability to issue official donation receipts. To maintain this privilege, charities must continue to meet all the requirements of the Act.

The CRA is committed to preserving the integrity of Canada’s tax system.

The CRA audits every gifting tax shelter that offers official donation receipts in excess of the value of any property donated.

The CRA has also repeatedly warned Canadians of the consequences of participating in abusive tax shelters that it holds to be non-compliant with the Act.

There is a substantial amount of information on the CRA’s website and the CRA has published information, including warnings about tax shelters and donating wisely, in a variety of newspapers, magazines and various other media sources.

For more information, go to Tax shelters and Donor Beware, a special report from the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.
An organization that has had its registration as a charity revoked can no longer issue donation receipts for income tax purposes and is no longer a qualified donee under the Act. The organization is no longer exempt from income tax, unless it qualifies as a non-profit organization, and it may be subject to a tax equal to the full value of its remaining assets.

For more information about the registration of Canadian charities or to find out more about a registered charity, go to the CRA’s Charities and Giving webpage.

Quick Facts on charities:

• As of March 31, 2016, there were 86,191 registered charities across Canada.
• Canada’s approximately 86,000 registered charities issued receipts worth more than $15.7 billion in 2014.
• In the 2015-16 fiscal year (April 1 to March 31), the CRA’s Charities Directorate completed 726 audits of registered charities chosen using a variety of methods – including random selection, follow-up on possible non-compliance or complaints, and based on a review of annual information returns. During that same period, 20 charities had their registered status revoked by the CRA as a result of an audit.
• As of March 31st, 2015, the CRA reassessed more than 195,000 taxpayer returns, denying in excess of $6.6 billion in donation claims mostly due to tax shelter gifting arrangements.
• A copy of the Notice of Intention to Revoke and other letters relating to the grounds for revocation are available to the public on request, in the language in which they were originally written, by going to Request for registered charity information.

Related Products

Canada Revenue Charities Listings: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html
Charities Media Kit: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/md-kt/menu-eng.html

Stay connected

To receive updates when new information is added to the CRA website, you can:
• Follow the CRA on Twitter – @CanRevAgency.
• Subscribe to a CRA electronic mailing list.
• Add the CRA’s RSS feeds to your feed reader.
• You can also watch the CRA’s tax-related videos on YouTube.

In a nutshell, this charity received $1,724,814 in cash contributions.
It paid $1,289,385 of that money to the promoters of the tax shelter who were bringing in the people to donate.
This charity issued donation receipts totalling $62,315,818 million dollars.
It failed to keep adequate books and records.
It failed to devote 100% of its efforts to charitable work.

As a result, any of the taxpayers who have filed their tax returns claiming any of the donation deductions from this charity should hope that the CRA offers them a deal to accept the money donated on a dollar for dollar basis, or they should use the Voluntary Disclosure Program to amend their returns! (Just not the current year return).

Note: Please use common sense when making a donation! If you make a $100 donation and receive a donation receipt for anything more than that amount understand that the CRA will deny it… eventually.

The Truth about the CRA Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) that no one wants you to know

Before you waste time and money paying a tax solution company to walk you through the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), you might want to read this post and learn the facts they don’t want you to know.

In order to “qualify” for the Voluntary Disclosure Program, there are some important facts which must be taken into consideration first;

  1. The disclosure must be voluntary, and by voluntary, the CRA means that the business or taxpayer must not be aware of or have knowledge of an audit, investigation or other enforcement action set to be conducted by the CRA, or initiated by the CRA, with respect to the information being disclosed.
  2. The disclosure must be complete, meaning that all information must be disclosed and all the outstanding years must be filed in this application.
  3. The disclosure must involve the application of a penalty, such as, but not limited to, Late Filing Penalties (LFP), Late Remitting Penalties (LRP), and Failure to make installments, Gross Negligence Penalties.
  4. The disclosure must relate to information that is at least one year past due.

 

If you’ve fallen behind in filing, or failed to disclose or declare income – possibly from overseas / offshore investments / tax shelters / income properties, and the CRA has not previously tried to contact you for the returns, then the VDP might be for you.

The VDP allows taxpayers who make a valid disclosure under the Income Tax Act (ITA) to pay taxes owing plus interest, but avoid penalty and / or prosecution.

To make a valid voluntary disclosure, with the CRA means you would pay only the taxes you owe plus interest, and you may avoid penalties and potential prosecution on the information accepted under the program.

You can file a disclosure to correct inaccurate or incomplete information or to provide information you may have omitted in your previous dealings with the CRA.

To submit a disclosure, fill out and sign Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement, or write a letter giving the same information as on the form.

You can submit your Form RC199 or your equivalent letter to the CRA directly, using the Submit documents online service now available through My AccountMy Business Account and Represent a Client.

Once you have logged in to one of these portals, click on “Submit documents” on the left hand navigation menu, select “I do not have a case or reference number,” and then select “Make a voluntary disclosure.” From this point you will be prompted to upload your letter or Form RC199 as well as to provide a short file description.

At the end of the process, you will be given a reference number that you can use if you need to add more documents.

You can also send your disclosure by mail to one of the CRA’s tax centres.

 

The following are circumstances under which VDP relief may be granted:

  • you did not fulfill your obligations under the applicable act;
  • you did not report taxable income you received;
  • you claimed ineligible expenses on your tax return;
  • you did not remit your employees’ source deductions;
  • you did not report an amount of GST/HST (which may include undisclosed liabilities or improperly claimed refunds or rebates or unpaid tax or net tax from a previous reporting period);
  • you did not file information returns; or
  • you did not report foreign-sourced income that is taxable in Canada.

 

Disclosures relating to any of the following are not accepted under the VDP:

  • bankruptcy returns;
  • income tax returns with no taxes owing or with refunds expected;
  • elections;
  • advance pricing arrangements;
  • rollover provisions; and
  • post-assessment requests for penalty and interest relief.

 

You can make an anonymous disclosure, referred to as a “no-name” disclosure.  You will have 90 calendar days – beginning on the date the CRA notifies you that there are 90 days to provide the identity of the taxpayer involved, not 90-days from the date of initial disclosure.

The CRA will close the disclosure file without further contact if the identity is not provided before the 90th day.

Additionally, payments should begin as soon as the disclosure is made in order to reduce the amount of interest which is accruing on the file.

Any “taxpayer” can use the VDP, because the CRA considers a taxpayer to be an individual, an employer, a corporation, a partnership, a trust, a goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) registrant/claimant, and a registered exporter of softwood lumber products. You can also have an authorized representative make a disclosure for you.

 

Time Limit:

There is no limit on how far back the VDP will request or review information. A disclosure must be complete and provide all the relevant information to allow the VDP officer to appropriately review and decide whether statute-barred years should be opened for reassessment. Income will be assessed in the year it is earned. If you have not filed for several years (that is, you are a non‑filer), you are expected to update all your tax years.

You are expected to keep your affairs up to date after using the VDP. You cannot make a second submission for the same issue for which you originally received the benefits of the program, however the CRA will consider a second disclosure in situations where the circumstances were beyond your control.

If this is the case, you will be required to give the CRA your name and tell them that you previously made a disclosure. If you do not reveal that you previously made a disclosure and this is uncovered by the CRA, your disclosure may be considered invalid and denied.

 

Additional information from the CRA

Form RC199, Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP) Taxpayer Agreement

Form RC59, Business Consent

Form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative

Information Circular IC00-1R4, Voluntary Disclosures Program

Making a Voluntary Disclosure on your Ontario Corporate Tax

 

Beyond the VDP is the opportunity to apply for Taxpayer Relief for full or partial relief of penalties and or interest, if applicable.

Save yourself the hassle of being subjected to someone else’s agenda.  Know your rights, and your options.  Know the truth.

 

For further information or to discuss the VDP and Taxpayer Relief provisions, send an email to us at info@intaxicating.ca

 

CRA Conviction Notice: Tax Protester Sentenced to 4-Years in Prison.

On November 27th, 2015, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued notice that Nicolet, Quebec resident and tax protester named Christian Lachapelle was sentenced to four years in prison by a Court in Quebec.  Lachapelle plead guilty October 22nd, 2014 to charges related to tax fraud.

A Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) investigation revealed that, between June 2007 and November 2010, Mr. Lachapelle advised and enabled 93 individuals to avoid, or try to avoid, paying nearly $2 million in income tax for the 2003 to 2010 tax years.

The scheme used by Mr. Lachapelle consisted of helping or advising individuals to file income tax returns or request a reassessment using the distinction between a “natural” person and a “legal” person.

For some reason, tax protesters continue to attempt this avenue to avoid having to pay taxes and in doing so regularly convince others that this technique can be used when Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected such arguments.

This is not the first time that Mr. Lachapelle has had issues with the CRA and the law. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail in 2012 for failing to file his income tax returns despite a court order, as well as fines of $7,000 in 2005 and $14,000 in 2011 for the same reasons.

All case-specific information above was obtained from the court records.

The Canada Revenue Agency warns the public to beware of people who assert that Canadians do not have to pay tax on the income they earn. Canadian courts have repeatedly and consistently rejected arguments made in these tax protester schemes. For those involved in such schemes, the CRA will reassess income tax and interest, and charge penalties – usually Gross Negligence Penalties too which can represent at minimum 50% of the tax being evaded.

More information on tax protester schemes can be found on the CRA website, here: www.cra.gc.ca/alert.

If you have ever made a tax mistake or omission, you have the ability to correct this error through the Canada Revenue Agency’s Voluntary Disclosures Program (VDP).

You must make the full and complete disclosure before you become aware that the CRA is taking action against you, and if accepted, you may only have to pay the taxes owing plus interest (not penalties).

More information on the CRA’s VDP can be found on the CRA’s website atwww.cra.gc.ca/voluntarydisclosures.

Additional information on CRA convictions can be found on the Media page of the CRA website at www.cra.gc.ca/convictions.

inTAXicating Tax Services exists to provide clarity and solutions for CRA questions and problems.  If you think you have done something wrong, and the CRA might want to assess / re-assess / audit you or your company, you should check with us first.

http://www.intaxicating.ca

info@intaxicating.ca

Real CRA collections experience.  On your side!